ASIA/CAMBODIA - "Living stones" of the Cambodian Church: 185 baptisms of young people at the Easter vigil

Saturday, 30 March 2024 local churches   evangelization   baptism  

Phnom Penh (Agenzia Fides) - Adult baptisms are a blessing for the Cambodian Church and represent a sign of hope for the small Catholic community of about 20,000 people in a nation of 17 million inhabitants. At the Easter Vigil on March 30, 185 catechumens of the Apostolic Vicariate of Phnom Penh will receive Baptism, along with the other sacraments of "Christian initiation" (Confirmation and Eucharist). As reported by Bishop Olivier Schmitthaeusler, Apostolic Vicar of Phnom Penh, the catechumens come from a dozen districts in the territory of Phnom Penh and have completed an itinerary of knowledge, deepening and discernment about the Christian faith.
The fact that they are young adults is an added value for the community, said Schmitthaeusler, addressing the future baptized in one of the preparation meetings held during the Lenten season. The bishop highlighted three essential aspects to be "a Christian in everyday life": pray, love and serve.
Bishop Schmitthaeusler invited young people to "pray like Jesus, both in difficulties and in joy" and to "pray like Mary". It is important - he continued - to always keep the relationship with God and with the community alive, also by putting ourselves at service of pastoral needs, with the spirit of being "loving servants" of the community. The image that the Bishop proposed to the young catechumens was taken from the letters of Saint Paul, describing them as "living stones" of the Church "by living in our community with a spirit of compassion, in prayer and service,” he said.
During the "election" rite, the Apostolic Vicar of Phnom Penh called each of the candidates by name before the altar, inviting them to register their names in the diocesan registry, laying his hand on them. During the rite, all candidates also received a purple scarf, as a sign of their preparation for baptism, which they must wear every time they go to church.
In 2023, the Cambodian Church baptized a total of 397 young people during the Easter Vigil (167 in Battambang Apostolic Prefecture, 126 in Kampong Cham Prefecture, 104 adults in Phnom Penh). The constant presence of young and adult catechumens, the Vicar said in conclusion, is a sign that "the work of God bears fruit in the Cambodian Church, which is alive and growing". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 30/3/2024)